Surprisingly, discovered a majority of folks who workout in the morning to be an ideal start to their day as opposed to working out at some other time. With just over 42 percent of all people working out in the mornings (which includes peak times of 6:30 a.m. and later), less than 27 percent routinely did the same at night (which includes both daily and nighttime workouts). This pattern held across all fitness types. Women were more likely to exercise in the mornings than in any other time of the day; fitness buffs were even more likely to exercise in the mornings than at any other time of the day; and core-related muscle groups were more active in the mornings than in any other time of the day.
The reason for this pattern was clear: skipping breakfast made the most of what should have been a fairly moderate exercise session. Breakfast calories are lower in fat and higher in carbs than post-workout time meals; therefore, skipping breakfast served to maximize the amount of calories burned during the entire workout session. But beyond that, skipping breakfast served to also leave people feeling less full after working out, potentially causing an erosion of muscle tissue and an overall sense of being less energetic after the workout. Skipping breakfast also made people less likely to snack and eat right when they got home from the gym. And the timing of the workout session was also negatively affected: For most people, eating too soon after a workout can cause the metabolism to slow down and reduce calorie burn; working out near bedtime may keep the metabolism more active and help avoid those “calories left in the tank” feelings that so many fitness enthusiasts dread.
So how do you optimize your morning routine? For most people, a solid six to eight hour workout in the mornings is more than enough to give them the desired results and the energy to start the day right. If that’s the case, then it’s important to make sure that the workout is spread over a decent amount of time, not just at the beginning but also in between naps throughout the day. This will ensure that the body isn’t constantly digesting and burning calories at once, causing a “burnout” effect and a reduction in efficiency.
One way to spread out the workout over a longer period of time is to schedule your morning session for the first thing you’ll be doing in the mornings when you’re not really going anywhere else. That means scheduling your run in the mornings, for example, right before you head off to work. This makes sense not only because it saves time, but also because it ensures that the body isn’t unnecessarily burning calories the rest of the day when not really needing to. And, of course, by having your run first thing in the mornings, you’ll be more likely to stay on track with your overall calorie burn goals and achieve those goals quicker.
When it comes to actually scheduling your morning routine, there are a few key things to keep in mind. For starters, it’s generally best to include two high intensity bursts in addition to your low intensity routine. Ideally, your high intensity burst should come about 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed. The low intensity burst should then occur while you’re still awake and focused on other aspects of your daily routine, preferably at least an hour later. (If possible, you should attempt to incorporate all three during the course of a normal day, but the closer to the end of the day you can combine the two most effective strategies.)
Another tip for making your morning routines more effective is to vary the lengths of your workouts. Long workouts that last an hour or longer tend to burn the most extra calories throughout the day, while short workouts that last a few minutes can also help you reach your weight loss goals quicker. (That said, if you’re looking to really maximize the effects of your morning routines, it might be a good idea to include both long and short sessions during the day, rather than just going for long periods of time with no rest in between.) Finally, it can also be helpful to include a stretching routine in your morning routine, since this can help you avoid the potential damage that may result from carrying excess weight around all day long.